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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Ex-Romanian spy accuses top politicians of collaborating with communist-era secret police

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP): A former Romanian spy who defected to the West in 1989 has accused several top Romanian politicians, including two former prime ministers, of having collaborated with the communist-era secret police, the Securitate.

Liviu Turcu, who headed a department in the Securitate's foreign espionage branch, said during a television interview late Monday that former premier Adrian Nastase had been an officer.

Dictator Nicolae Ceausescu's dreaded secret police, which kept tabs on the country's 23 million people, had an army of spies and an estimated 700,000 informers.

Turcu said that he had known Nastase for 35 years.

"He covered the whole range of collaborative jobs, from informer to ... undercover officer," Turcu said. "In 1989, Adrian Nastase was being prepared to be sent abroad as an officer."

Nastase, who was prime minister from 2000 to 2004, said the allegations belonged to Romania's past and that the council that is studying the Securitate archives had recently concluded he had not collaborated.

Turcu also said that former Prime Minister Radu Vasile, who was premier from 1998 to 1999, was a Securitate informer. Former President Emil Constantinescu has said he had known since appointing Vasile to the premier's job that he had made a written pledge to become an informer when he was a professor at the Academy for Economics. Constantinescu said, however, that Vasile only reported about foreign students, a common practice at the time, and not about his colleagues.

Several other politicians denied allegations they had collaborated.

Turcu defected to the West in 1989 and asked for political asylum in the United States. He was sentenced to death in Romania.

Turcu said, however, that continued secrecy surrounding the politicians' Securitate files after the collapse of communism in 1989 could have exposed them to blackmail. He said that many politicians' files had been cleansed of compromising information, but that the missing documents could be reconstituted.

On Tuesday, Turcu, who recently returned to Romania, met with the board of Romania's Council for Studying the Securitate Archives to provide clues on how to find missing documents.

"Today, he didn't give us a fish, but he gave us a fishing rod," said poet Mircea Dinescu, a member of the council, which was established in 2000 to study the Securitate's files.
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